Department for Education announces an extension to the legal duty for local authorities to act on provisions for children and young people with EHC plans during the coronavirus crisis

The Department for Education has decided to extend the changes for a local authority to act on provisions for children and young people with an EHC plan for a further month till end of June. The notice modifying section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 (duty to secure special educational provision and health care provision in accordance with EHC plan) was due to expire at the end of the month. The DfE has also published a list of updated guidance around the return to school for many children and young people.

The changes, made during the Covid-19 crisis, have to be kept under monthly review so as to support local authorities to manage the impacts of the virus but also to reassure parents which of the requirements remain in place. Local authorities will continue to secure or act on provisions for children and young people’s EHC plans using ‘reasonable endeavours’ from 1st June until the 30th June 2020.

The Minister for Children and Families, Vicky Ford MP, released an open letter to children and young people with SEND and their parents/carers explaining the Department’s decisions and highlighting updated guidance. You can read the letter here.

The updated guidance covers:

  • Updating risk assessments for children and young people with an EHC plan
  • Phased returns to educational settings from 1st June for nursery, reception, Year 1 and year 6 and from the 15th June for secondary schools (year 10 and year 12) and further educational settings
  • Supporting children with EHC plans in mainstream schools, colleges and alternative provision settings
  • Supporting children in special schools and specialist post-16 institutions
  • Supporting children and young people in hospital schools

You can read the guidance here.

The Council for Disabled Children continues to collate FAQ’s from parents and carers and the sector on the guidance and recurrent issues and will continue to do so. Please refer to these as they are updated weekly. You can read them here.  And ask a question here: CDCQuestions@ncb.org.uk

While Council for Disabled Children understands that the government needs to manage the challenges of the pandemic effectively, we are keen to ensure that the changes remain in place for the minimum possible time.

CDC is one of a large number of sector organisations, including Mencap, Downs Syndrome Association and Special Needs Jungle amongst others, who have written to Children & Families Minister Vicky Ford about the impact of coronavirus on children with SEND including the legal changes; preparations for the return to school, and the urgent need to progress the SEND Review.

Our Director, Dame Christine Lenehan, has issued the following statement:

“At CDC we are committed to ensuring you have the latest, accurate information from Government. We are equally committed to advocating for the rights of children, young people and their families to return to schools and services with the full provision and support available to them. Along with our colleagues across the sector we are focusing on ensuring children have their full provision available to them on EHCPs or SEN Support, that children who are shielded get information and access to services, and that family and therapies are increasingly available.”

You can read the full letter here.